My name is Melissa James and I’m CEO of The Tech Connection, where we help employers find diverse technical talent.
Post Your Job Description on Job Boards
Once you have your job description, you now need to let the world know that you’re hiring. How do you go about doing this? You put your job description on job boards to help you get that inbound traffic. So, great job boards are websites like Craigslist, LinkedIn, or Monster.com. Depending on the type of role that you’re looking for, Craigslist is a great place to start. Why? It’s only $45 per post. So why not? You can post there and see what kind of applications are coming through.
Once you start posting your job description, you’re going to see the resumes come through. You can decide which ones are the right fit for you and which ones you find interesting. Be sure to reply to people that apply to you within 24 hours. Why? Because they’re actively looking for a job. You’re actively looking to hire. The quicker you engage in this conversation, the better it will be for you.
Conduct a Phone Interview
Once you find that applicant, you need to set up a phone interview with them. The phone interview is meant to be a quick, 30-minute conversation where you just talk a little bit more about the role and you ask them a couple of specific questions related to the role. Previously, I mentioned the marketing associate; let’s use that example again. The marketing associate is going to create new blogs for your site. Perhaps three questions that you might ask are, “Have you ever written a blog before? What was your thought process when you created the blog? What was the voice that you were trying to convey to your readers?”
As you think through this, you want to listen to what the candidate is saying and how they’re saying it. Are they nervous? Are they able to explain their projects in detail? If so, that’s a great first start. You want someone who can be a strong communicator for your brand when they’re on your team. You’re looking for people who have truly done the work beforehand and who can explain the process that they went through to you, and help you understand why bringing them on your team is going to be so awesome.
You’re Being Interviewed Too
Your part as the employer is to make sure that you’re selling your company and telling them why you are so great to work for. What is it that’s unique about you that someone would want to take their time and energy to work for you? Sell them on it: “I close deals in 30 days.” “I used to work for Twitter.” “I used to work for Microsoft.” “We’re a really great company and I can teach you the best leadership traits to help you be successful.” You want them equally excited about your business, your mission, and who you are when they join your team.
As you continue to go through the interview process with a candidate, remember the first conversation is just an invitation to see if you like this person. I always recommend that you bring this person on site for an interview if you like them. Let them see what your office space is like. You want to meet them in person to further develop the conversation. You talked about their passion during the phone call. You sold them on your mission. That’s great. Now you need to sit down and get to know them on a more personal level.
Now it’s time to talk specifically with them about your business, how you want to set it up, how you see this actually taking place, and then making sure that they’re okay with that. Are they comfortable working at a one- or two-person startup? Is that something that they feel like they would like to do for their career? Do they see the value of coming to a startup? The value is that they’re going to learn a lot, they’re going to do a lot, and they’re going to execute a ton. That’s a great reason to come to a startup.
Get an Idea for How a Prospective Employee Thinks
So, as you go through this process, be sure to meet with the person face to face at a cafe or at your office to have a conversation and dive deeper. Ask, “How would you go about creating a blog for our company? What do you think are important topics that would be helpful? What do you think is important to our mission and to our consumers when they come to our site?”
This is a great way to understand how this individual thinks. You want great ideas. That’s why you’re hiring them. They’re smart. They’re intelligent. You want to bring that type of information out of them during the interview process. You want to see their creative ideas. Invite them up to the white board to come up with ideas with you. That’s a great way to see what they would do in a situation if they were on your team.
Start with One Small, Focused Project
The last component that I would mention is that when you’re hiring, start with one small project. It could be a small project where you say, “Let’s work together on coming up with one blog post for our new site. I’m going to come up with a few ideas. You’re going to come up with a few ideas. I’d like you to take the lead on writing this blog post and then afterward I’m going to check and see if there’s anything that I can do to be helpful and then we will look at the final product together.” The one blog post is going to be short. You’re going to set a start date and an end date and then go from there.
This is a great way for you to start building that relationship and for them to see a good example of what it might be like to work with you as founder and for you to see how it is to work with this candidate on a particular project. What you want to see is: Do they follow through? Do they finish things on time? Do they ask questions when they come across roadblocks?
Be sure to have these conversations as you go through the interview process. If you find that the project goes really well, the candidate follows through, and gets things done, then that’s a great hire.
Now you’ve gotten to see this candidate from multiple perspectives: talking during the phone interview, seeing them in person either at your office or at a coffee shop, and then working with them on a small, short-term project. Having all of this tied together gives you some really great data points about their performance and whether or not they would be a complementary hire to you as the founder.
About Melissa James
Melissa James is President and CEO of The Tech Connection, the premier marketplace for purpose driven, diverse technical talent. Her mission is to help people reach their highest potential by accelerating their individual pathway to success. She believes that every individual should live by one principle to ‘Be the CEO of You”. She not only inspires people to realize their full potential she connects them to high-performing companies that will accelerate their growth. She has a strong track record of building high performing teams for elite companies such as Google, Teradata, and local Boston businesses such as RA Capital, and Sample6.
At the root of her work is a passion for community service. On top of running her business, Melissa is the founder of the Black Tech Boston Meetup, a platform created to celebrate the impact of technology within African American communities. She previously served on the board for Youth Institute of Science and Technology and the Young Black Women’s Society. Melissa has been recognized as a “Woman on The Move” by Boston Business Journal. She has been featured in numerous news outlets such as the Improper Bostonian, Bay State Banner, Boston Herald, and Bloomberg Business.
She recently received the U.S. Presidential Service Award and the 2015 Pursuer award from the African Youth Excellence organization for her relentless commitment to the community. Melissa was born and raised in Boston, MA and graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.